The statue of French Jesuit missionary priest Father Jacques Marquette will be re-dedicated Tuesday, 100 years to the day after it was first celebrated on Mackinac Island. On Sept. 1, 1909, the statue’s original dedication was marked with pageantry, music, and remarks in Marquette Park. Accounts of the event state that
“a massive crowd gathered in the park, some coming from Cheboygan, Petoskey, St. Ignace, Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, Mich.”A reviewing stand was erected between the statue and the rear of the park, from which dignitaries made various speeches. The Petoskey City Band and the Grand Hotel Orchestra provided the music. Park Superintendent B. F. Emery opened the festivities by introducing Bishop Foley of Detroit who offered introductory remarks. Upon the unveiling of the statue to loud applause, U.S Supreme Court Justice, and former Secretary of State William R. Day reviewed the life and heroic efforts of Marquette.
The day’s festivities concluded with the singing of “America” followed by a Benediction delivered by Bishop Charles D. Williams of Detroit.Marquette lived from 1637 to 1675 and was known as a missionary and an explorer who found great success in educating members of the Huron and Ojibway tribes in the Straits of Mackinac region. Efforts to create a monument on Mackinac Island to honor him began in 1877, and although several fund-raising efforts took place over the next several decades, little progress was made.
Italian sculptor Gaetano Trentanove created a white marble statue of Marquette for the state of Wisconsin during that era, and the citizens of Marquette, Mich., then commissioned Trentanove to create a version in bronze to adorn a new city park.It was dedicated in 1897. Peter White, a Marquette, Mich., city father, was also a member and chairman of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission.
In 1899 the commission set aside the ground below Fort Mackinac as a park honoring Marquette, and White naturally turned to Trentanove to create another bronze version of his statue.Fund raising efforts, however, again proved a challenge. Unfortunately, it took the death of White in 1908 to finally achieve the goal. He left a gift in his will to cover the balance needed to erect the statue. A 7 p.m. celebration is planned for Tuesday’s 2009 re-dedication, to include music; introductory and historical comments by Mackinac Island State Park Commission Vicechairman Dennis Cawthorne, Mackinac State Historic Parks Director Phil Porter and Chief Curator Steve Brisson; the singing of “America” led by the Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp and MSHP staff; a ceremonial firing of the Fort Mackinac cannon from the bluff above; and refreshments provided by Mackinac Associates.
Photo is of the original dedication of the statue in 1909